Monsanto has genetically modified several crops to be RoundUp resistant. This means that the herbicide RoundUp can be sprayed on the crops and the crops will not die. Crops genetically modified by Monsanto to be RoundUp resistant include alfalfa, canola, corn, sweet corn, soybeans, and sugar beets. These GMOs are high on the list of food ingredients that Americans who are against GMOs try to avoid.
The blog The Healthy Home Economist made internet waves this week with a viral post suggesting that most people who believe that they cannot tolerate wheat, actually cannot tolerate RoundUp. In the post, the author claims that just before harvest, most of the wheat used in our foods is sprayed with the herbicide RoundUp.
"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2012, 99 percent of durum wheat, 97 percent of spring wheat, and 61 percent of winter wheat has been doused with Roundup as part of the harvesting process," the post claimed, though a link to these USDA statistics was not provided. One source on that blog post was an article in the Examiner. That article made the same claim about glyphosate, an active ingredient in Monsanto's RoundUp.
The Examiner provided a chart from a USDA database, indicating that indeed, almost all of these types of wheat receive applications of glyphosate, even though there is no RoundUp-resistant wheat that is approved for mainstream use in the United States. According to Examiner, Barley is also treated with RoundUp right before harvest. Curious social media users began wondering what else, besides wheat, might be sprayed with RoundUp just before harvest.
According to Monsanto literature, farmers are encouraged to conduct pre-harvest RoundUp applications on many crops. Monsanto explains how to most efficiently use RoundUp as a pre-harvest treatment of wheat, feed barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, and dry beans.
"Preharvest is the best time for controlling Canada thistle, quackgrass, perennial sowthistle, dandelion, toadflax, and milkweed. A preharvest weed control application is an excellent management strategy to not only control perennial weeds, but to facilitate harvest management and get a head start on next year's crop."Farmers often treat crops that are harvested after they have dried to create uniformity in the "drying down" of the crops for this purpose, according to Manitoba Pulse Growers' literature. The information warns farmers to be aware that some countries require crops to contain "less chemical residue" than others. That literature states that, in the U.S., there are no marketing issues with excess RoundUp residue on plants. The maximum residue level allowed is set, and provided farmers follow the directions on the labels on their RoundUp, they don't need to worry. Selling to Japan is a bit more difficult if farmers use pre-harvest RoundUp treatments though, because, according to Manitoba Pulse Growers, the maximum residue level of RoundUp that Japan will tolerate on beans is "set at a rigidly low level."
Though these crops are not always used in human foods, this might, in part, help explain to the public the results from a breast milk study released earlier this year that found higher than expected levels of glyphosate in breast milk samples.
#Glyphosate Isn't So Safe - found in human blood, urine & breast milk. Sprayed over 80% of all crops in the U.S. http://t.co/wh0SW9oKf4Despite the herbicide being found in breastmilk, and even urine, Monsanto maintains that the use of RoundUp on feed crops and food crops alike is safe for animals and people under "present and expected conditions of use."
— Aquarius Systems (@AquariusSystems) September 30, 2014
How Much Glyphosate is Sprayed on Our Crops? by @NurseLovesFarmr http://t.co/FPjfnWz1hv pic.twitter.com/RvEGhXBNM4
— Monsanto Company (@MonsantoCo) August 27, 2014
You can get urine, drinking water, or breast milk tested for glyphosate at http://t.co/dAHmUJUF2s. Do it then go #organic[Photo via Pixabay]
— Judy Converse MPH RD (@NutrCareAutism) October 11, 2014